Anything cliché means death to a writer. #atinybitmelodramatic #notreally
For the longest time, I assumed cliché just referred to certain phrases, like fast as lightning or slow as a turtle. But I was wrong.
Editors, agents, and readers are all looking for that unique story that sweeps them off their feet. #cliche None of us want a tired plot, one that has been redone to death. For example the girl and the paranormal love triangle. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write that. It just means it has to be really, really good with a unique angle. And isn’t breaking into publishing hard enough?
Solution: Don’t stop at the first idea. Keep making those lists and twisting those plots until you’ve got something all your own.
For me, there are two different levels of a clichéd character.
First, there is the stereotyped character: jock, cheerleader, hottie bad boy, geek. Not that we can’t use these kinds of characters. But as with plot, the approach must be different and written well.
Second, there is the one-dimensional character. This character has no depth and comes across unbelievable. And because of the lack of depth comes across cliché. #notgood
Solution: Make character charts. Give the character relationships with secondary characters that have goals and troubles too. Build in world details. Create a primal internal arc with a universal struggle that any reader can connect with. Dig deep.
Don’t make your plot points predictable. With this, the reader can see what’s coming pages before it happens. Surprise the reader!
Solution: Donald Maass break out tips are great for creating turning points that no one expects. And usually, it comes back to character and having them make the choices that no one expects.
Cliché villains have the black twirly mustache and evil laughs. Or they could be the mean girl or the bully. They have no soft side and are there just to cause trouble for the protagonists with very little reason. In other words, they are 2 dimensional and are only there to further your plot.
Solution: Give your villain a save the cat scene. Show his/her softer side. Pretend the villain is the hero – what does he want? Give him plausible and empathetic motivations.
5. The writing
For me, clichéd writing is dull and out of focus. The details are bland or average. Weak verbs. Poor sentence structure or too much of the same structure.
Solution: Use strong verbs. Work hard at creating emotion in the description, setting, and body language by using it to reflect the main character. Vary your sentence structure. And practice, practice, practice.
I’m stopping at five. But anything can be cliché: setting, weather, description… you name it. And the biggest ways to improve is to read, read, read and write, write, write. But to read and write with purpose. Go for it!
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